DESCRIPTION: An animated video. At night, a colony of four bats flies past a darkened house, surrounded by greenery. A bilby walks amongst bushes. A possum descends a tree.

SPEAKER: Most Australian mammals are nocturnal.

DESCRIPTION: A floodlight attached to the house turns on, and shines over the yard. The possum falls out of the tree into a bush. The bilby freezes, then scurries away.

SPEAKER: Artificial light at night can cause them harm.

DESCRIPTION: The possum emerges from the bush, sniffs, then retreats. Elsewhere, a possum emerges at the opening of a tree hollow. The possum halts as an owl lands beside it. Two kangaroos meet in a clearing amongst tall grass. As they kiss, a spotlight catches them. They both look at the light, before one of the kangaroos hops away. The remaining kangaroo slumps and bows it head.

SPEAKER: It can make them spend less time looking for food, make them more vulnerable to predators and confuse their reproductive cycles.

DESCRIPTION: A bilby emerges from behind a bush. The indoor and exterior lights of a nearby two-storey house illuminate the area. The bilby stays low, and retreats behind the bush. 

SPEAKER: Help Australia’s mammals by avoiding illuminating the area’s they rest, forage in, or travel through.

DESCRIPTION: A man and a woman stand on the upstairs balcony of the house. Moths flutter in the beams of four exterior lights. All the lights turn off, except for one, which lowers in intensity. Many of the moths fly away, except for one, which stays under the now-lowered light.

SPEAKER: Illuminate only what you really need and keep light intensity low.

DESCRIPTION: The colour of the light changes to amber, and the final moth flies away. 

SPEAKER: Choose amber to red-coloured lights which don’t disturb them as much.

DESCRIPTION: The bilby emerges from the bush and approaches a butterfly, resting on a nearby leaf.

SPEAKER: Play your part to help our mammals by reducing your light pollution.

DESCRIPTION: A URL on screen:  awe.gov.au/light-pollution

SPEAKER: Consult the National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife to find out more about how you can help.

DESCRIPTION: Text on screen reads: Let’s switch off light pollution together. The Commonwealth Coat of Arms Appears above the text: Australian Government - Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

SPEAKER: Let’s switch off light pollution together.


Impact on wildlife

Many nocturnal species have adapted to use the cover of natural darkness to their advantage. They use it to carry out important activities, like breeding, foraging and migrating.

When we introduce artificial light into their environment, it can disrupt their behaviours. This can negatively affect their health.

In turn, this can stall the recovery of a threatened species or negatively affect ecosystems.

Artificial light can:

  • Stop turtle hatchlings from finding the ocean
  • Disorient migrating birds
  • Affect the availability of food
  • Prevent fledging seabirds from taking their first flight as they only fly under the cover of darkness
  • Stop nocturnal animals from feeding in lit areas because they risk being eaten by predators.

What is light pollution?

Artificial light helps humans work, play and travel safely at night. However, artificial lighting that is inappropriate, excessive or poorly designed spreads into unwanted places. This is known as light pollution, and it disrupts the health and wellbeing of humans and wildlife alike.

Street lights
Decorative image

How does wildlife use natural light?

Animals and plants use natural light signals from the sun, moon and stars

to time their behaviour and life processes such as:

  • patterns of rest and activity
  • growth, reproduction and migration
  • navigation over short and long distances.

Light pollution harms wildlife and ecosystems

Light pollution can mimic, mask or confuse natural light signals, causing:

  • mistimed activity, growth or breeding
  • disturbed sleep and circadian rhythms
  • disorientation and poor navigation
  • attraction to artificial lights
  • encounters with new predators
  • reduced survival and reproduction.

Artificial lighting affects whole ecosystems by:

  • dividing and disconnecting suitable habitat
  • reducing pollination by nocturnal animals
  • disrupting food webs and nutrient webs
  • benefiting invasive species (cats, foxes and cane toads take advantage of artificial lights to feed).
Illustration of bogong moths flying at night

Impacts to wildlife

Wildlife are highly sensitive to light

  • Many animals are instinctively drawn towards light.
  • Animals respond to extremely faint light signals. This includes moonlight and even starlight.
  • Light sources can affect animals many kilometres away, or deep under water.

We don’t all experience light the same way

  • Light that appears dim to humans may be bright for some wildlife.
  • Plants are also sensitive to light pollution.
  • Birds and some bats view lights from high above, while fish, turtles and frogs view from below.

Monitor the effects of lighting

Planning artificial lighting within 20km of habitat, ecological communities, or migratory species and their travel routes? Make sure you consider the impact of artificial light pollution on neighbouring wildlife.

An environmental impact assessment can identify potential light pollution impacts and solutions. It should consider artificial lighting, including from vehicles and vessels.

Once installed, monitor artificial lighting and animal behaviour. This ensures you have sufficiently mitigated light pollution for wildlife.

Illustration of a cat sneaking up on a bird illuminated by lights from a nearby house

What you can do

Understand how light can affect wildlife.

Follow the 6 lighting design principles to create wildlife-friendly spaces.

Consider what you can do to reduce light pollution in your community.

DESCRIPTION: An animated video. A darkened house at night, surrounded by greenery. A streetlight, indoor lights, and fairy lights hanging from the eaves turn on. A possum emerges from a bush in the front yard. A streetlight turns on and shines on the possum, which retreats into the bush.

SPEAKER: We all use artificial light at night, but our light pollution can create harmful consequences for wildlife.

DESCRIPTION: A woman in the house walks past the window. Text on screen reads: Six Best Practice Principles to Reduce Light Pollution.

SPEAKER: Fortunately, there are things you can do to help. To reduce light pollution and protect our wildlife, it is important to follow these six simple best-practice lighting principles.

DESCRIPTION: In a darkened driveway, a man exits a car. As he walks toward a house, low, amber-coloured ground lights along the pathway turn on, one by one, then turn off.

SPEAKER: First, start with natural darkness, consider your needs and add light for specific purposes.

DESCRIPTION: As the man approaches the front door, an amber-coloured sensor light turns on. Bright light pours out of the doorway as he opens the front door. He turns the dial of a dimmer switch, and the light intensity lowers.

SPEAKER: Use adaptive light controls, sensors and dimmers to manage light timing and intensity.

DESCRIPTION: In a brightly lit room, a woman closes a blind over a window. The artificial light illuminating the yard outside, including a family of magpies in a nest, dims then disappears. The magpies fall asleep.

SPEAKER: Only light the areas you really need and prevent light from spilling into areas it’s not needed.

DESCRIPTION: In a backyard, a man and woman, both holding a glass of red wine, stand around a table. The angle of the floodlight shining on them lowers, as does the intensity of the light. The light source drops closer to the ground. A bilby watches from behind a nearby bush. The people clink their glasses.

SPEAKER: Lights should be kept low in intensity and close to the ground.

DESCRIPTION: A flood light shines on a light-coloured external wall of a house. A ladder leans against the wall, alongside painting supplies. The wall is painted a darker colour. The intensity of the floodlight diminishes.

SPEAKER: Choose darker, non-reflective finishes for your home to prevent light from bouncing off into nature or the sky.

DESCRIPTION: The man and woman sit at the table in their backyard, illuminated by a floodlight and five ground lights. Moths flutter in the beam of the floodlight. The colour of the artificial light changes from bright, white to amber. The moths fly off into the night.

SPEAKER: And choose orange, red or amber coloured lights which reduce skyglow and that wildlife are generally less sensitive to.

DESCRIPTION: The surrounding wildlife - a possum in a tree hollow, the magpie family in the nest, and two small marsupials scurrying amongst bushes - are largely unimpacted by the amber light from of the backyard.

SPEAKER: Using these six simple principles will help you to be a better neighbour to your wildlife.

DESCRIPTION: A URL on screen: awe.gov.au/light-pollution.

SPEAKER: Follow the link for helpful guidance on reducing light pollution, and spread the word.

DESCRIPTION: Text on screen reads: Let’s switch off light pollution together. The Commonwealth Coat of Arms Appears above the text: Australian Government - Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

SPEAKER: Let’s switch off light pollution together.


The 6 best practice lighting principles to protect wildlife

illustration of buildings against a naturally dark sky

1. Start with natural darkness and only add light for a specific purpose. 

illustration of a hand controlling lights by using a dimming switch

2. Use adaptive light controls to manage the timing, intensity and colour of light.

Illustration of birds walking past dimly lit pathway to house

3. Light only the area needed.  

Illustration of people enjoying the outdoors at night with minimal lighting pointing towards the ground

4. Use low-intensity lighting and keep it close to the ground. 

Illustration comparing a reflective and non-reflective surface at night with a light shinging on it

5. Use non-reflective, dark-coloured surfaces near lighting fixtures. 

Illustration of people sitting outside with amber coloured lighting

6. Avoid white lights - use amber (low-CCT) lighting with little or no blue wavelength. 

National light pollution guidelines for wildlife

The National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife set out how you can:

  • Assess and manage the light pollution impacts on protected wildlife
  • Manage artificial light
  • Protect marine turtles, seabirds, migratory shorebirds, bats, terrestrial mammals and ecological communities.


National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife (PDF 6.5MB)
National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife (DOCX 12.8MB)




Let’s switch off light pollution together!